Sub-Committee on Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping (HTW), 5th session, 16-20 July 2018 (opening address)


Good morning, distinguished delegates,

First of all I would like to congratulate France for yesterday's very exciting game and all the countries that participated in the football World Cup, which made people all over the world happy and delighted. I would like to express my congratulations to the Government of the Russian Federation for the excellent organization of the event.

It is a pleasure for me to welcome you to the fifth session of the Sub‑Committee on Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping. I particularly welcome those delegates who may be attending this Sub‑Committee for the first time.

Distinguished delegates,

I would also like to take this opportunity to say a few words about this year's World Maritime Day theme, which is "IMO 70: Our heritage – better shipping for a better future".

In addition to some of the events that we have already held to celebrate the 70 years since the convention establishing IMO was adopted, we have planned a series of events and initiatives to further commemorate 70 years of achievement, during which the truly vital industry of shipping has become safer, cleaner and greener, thanks to the work of IMO. Whilst I look forward to your participation in those events, I would also encourage you to embrace the theme and use this occasion to reflect and showcase how the Organization has adapted over the years as a crucial player in the global supply chain; and to be passionate about the IMO family. This is a great opportunity to raise awareness of our work and our future and to improve our international image. We owe it to the shipping industry and in particular to the seafarers.

This year's World Maritime Day will be celebrated at IMO Headquarters on 27 September, and the annual parallel event was organized by the Government of Poland and held in Szczecin from 13 to 15 June this year.

Distinguished delegates,

I would now like to highlight some key issues among the various items on the agenda of HTW 5.

With regard to the continuous work on model courses, you will be invited to consider 11 draft model courses for validation. The valuable assistance that these model courses offer to facilitate the provision of training in accordance with the STCW Convention is recognized by all involved. In addition, I would like to emphasize that the huge workload agreed by the Sub‑Committee at its previous sessions, combined with the new process of development, revision and validation of model courses, has put a strain on the Secretariat's limited resources. I, therefore, invite you to consider the planning of the future revision and development of model courses in order to ensure the long‑term sustainability of this important function of your Sub-Committee.

The long-standing problem of unlawful practices associated with certification continues to be of great concern to international shipping. In this regard, I would like to stress the importance of full cooperation in response to requests by STCW Parties and companies for information concerning the authenticity and validity of certificates, as well as the application of proper enforcement measures by Parties to prevent unlawful practices.

Regarding the work to a comprehensive review of the 1995 STCW-F Convention, your Sub-Committee is expected to make further progress on this major task, which should result in an effective instrument that will contribute to addressing the significant challenges of the fishing industry. I urge you to expedite this work with a view to finalizing new and updated provisions as early as possible.

You will also continue considering the revision of the Guidelines on Fatigue contained in MSC/Circ.1014 to address the issue of how to better understand and manage fatigue of seafarers in a practical and comprehensive way, taking into account how dangerous the effects of fatigue are in the shipping industry. The outcome of this task will provide an important tool to help prevent fatigue, which is a major problem that seafarers are facing today, and i would like you to finalize this revision.

As for the role of the human element, you will be invited to consider how to better use reports on marine casualties and incidents for the benefit of seafarers' training and education. I would also like to take this opportunity to  inform you that I plan to commission a project intended to assess the impact of the human element on international shipping so as to enable future coordinated action. 

Finally, I feel it is appropriate and timely to draw your attention to the requirement for Parties to the STCW Convention to systematically communicate information to the Organization on the measures adopted to implement its requirements nationally. That information is subject to scrutiny to ensure that the requirements are being given "full and complete effect". I would like to strongly emphasize the need to keep to the timeframes established in the Convention to carry out and report the results of independent evaluations to IMO so that I may report them to the Committee in a timely manner. Strict compliance with this process, together with effective implementation, will provide the credibility and robustness that the maritime community needs when it comes to compliance with the STCW Convention.

Distinguished delegates,

I am confident that you will tackle the many tasks before you successfully as usual, inspired by the customary IMO spirit of cooperation and under the able leadership of your Chair, Ms. Mayte Medina of the United States. I am sure that, ably supported by the staff of the Secretariat as always, you will make sound, balanced and timely decisions and I extend best wishes to all of you for every success in your deliberations.

Finally, as is customary, all of you are cordially invited to a cocktail reception hosted by me in the Delegates' Lounge this evening after the closure of today's session.

Thank you.